18 Kenyan students win regional awards for the Huawei ICT Competition 2023-2024 and will go to Global Final in China

21 top Kenyan students were awarded today out of the almost 6,000 who entered the 2023-2024 Huawei ICT Competition during a ceremony held in Nairobi. Of the 21 winners at a national level, an impressive 18 of them have subsequently won awards at the regional level and will be going to China for the global final, more than any of the other 15 countries in the region. As Kenya emerges as a key player in the Southern African Region, its students are making their mark on the global stage.

The students also got cash prizes and Huawei products whilst other awards were given out for lecturers and women in technology whilst 21 students got internship and job offers.

Chief Guest at the ceremony was Hon. Ezekiel Machogu, Cabinet Secretary, Ministry of Education, who spoke about the importance of technology skills and collaboration between academia and industry leaders: “The Ministry of Education is fully aware of the importance of using technology in teaching, and in producing a workforce with high technology skills. We are very pleased to see the outcomes of partnerships with industries such as Huawei and Safaricom, as well as international organisations such as UNESCO, to support the training of lecturers and students in high-end ICT skills such as Internet of things (IoT), artificial intelligence and cloud computing to address the skills gap in the ICT sector.”

Before participating in the prize-giving ceremony, he commended the students: “Today we recognize some of the best ICT talent in the country through awarding the winners of the Huawei ICT Competition. This is a noble initiative that brings the latest curriculum and knowledge to our students and then also gives them opportunities to gain more international exposure and internships – both of which are very important, and very complementary to what the students get at University. I wish to appreciate Huawei for this, and acknowledge the great achievement of the competition in attracting 5,800 Kenyans to take part from over 40 Universities nationwide.”

Mr Luis Kinyua - Top Student at the Huawei ICT Competition 2023-2024 said he would “like to thank the Huawei instructors, university lecturers and Huawei Technologies for making the competition possible. All stakeholders made this experience unforgettable, offered your support and ensured you addressed any questions we had and challenges we faced. You helped us embrace the important ICT field and this served as a stepping stone to those of us who are interested in becoming Network and Cloud experts. Huawei always ensures that it updates all its course materials with regards to the latest trends in technology.”

The Huawei ICT Competition, initiated in 2015 as part of the Huawei ICT Academy is a collaborative effort to enrich the ICT talent pool by transferring the latest knowledge from a global technology leader. The 2023-2024 edition featured four distinct tracks: cloud, computing, network, and innovation, reflecting Huawei's dedication to diverse technological fields. 

“I would like to extend my deepest gratitude to the Ministry of Education for working with us to ensure the success of this ICT competition enabling young people to build their skills and promote innovation. We all need to continue this important work to ensure we create value from the Digital Superhighway paving the path for youth around the country to have a brighter future.” Gavin Gao, CEO of Huawei Kenya said in the ceremony.

The award ceremony took place as part of a National ICT Talent Summit of University & ICT Industry stakeholders including Safaricom and UNESCO to discuss ways of enhancing the teaching of, and use of, emerging ICT technologies in higher education. Various institutions such as Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology, Kibabii University and Africa Nazarene University shared successful cases of how they have incorporated Industry Certification learning into their existing undergraduate programs to equip students with the right skills for the digital economy.

Ms Donna Rege, Senior Manager IT Business & Government and Women In Technology (WIT) Lead, Safaricom in her speech noted that: “In matters capability development, WIT and Huawei has had several collaborations: Self-learning, Mentorship & coaching, and Training. I congratulate and appreciate Huawei for the intentionality and consistency in the capacity-building agenda of this country and around Women as reflected in this year’s cohort where women students grew from 13% last year to 21% this year. As Safaricom, we commit to continue working together, and we call upon more industry players – private and public, academia to come on board.”

Mr Alexandandros Makarigakis, Director and Representative UNESCO Multi-sectoral regional office for Eastern Africa noted in his remarks that three weeks ago, the African Union Summit of Heads of State and Government in Addis Ababa officially declared 2024 as the “Year of Education”: “And this commitment could not be timelier, as the continent faces a severe education crisis: Africa has the world’s largest out-of-school population; Even those in school are not learning; and there is a huge shortage of qualified teachers.”

He went on: “Overcoming these challenges requires a transformative approach to education that harnesses digital technology to unlock learning opportunities. At the heart of UNESCO’s strategy lay three fundamental pillars, or what we call the three Cs to unlock digital learning: content, capacity, and connectivity.”

In Kenya, Huawei has established ICT Academies in over 50 universities and colleges, providing access to cutting-edge technology training in networking, cloud computing, 5G, and AI. Annually, these academies train over 4,000 students, contributing significantly to the ICT skills landscape. The Huawei hardware installation base in Kenya has been recognized by the Ministry of ICT Innovation and Youth Affairs, playing a pivotal role in nurturing Kenya's ICT talent pool and supporting national development initiatives.